A showcase for a wide range of creative work produced by people with ASDs and a creative entry point into understanding ASDs.
Autism Canada invites submissions of original art work from individuals with ASDs to feature on our ASD Arts! page. Please forward no more than three submissions (clear JPEG, or PNG files @ 72 dpi, and a minimum width of 500 pixels) and we will try to post as many as possible. Each file should include the name of the art work and the artist’s first and last name. Artists retain full copyright. You can email submissions to: email@example.com.
Painters / Photographers
Grace Culliton was born in 1988, and was diagnosed with autism at the age of five. Grace demonstrated talent in art at an early age. She has won several awards for her work. Her art is characterized by strong use of colour, and a mature sense for spatial design, patterns and textures. Visit Grace’s website to learn more about her, and to view a gallery of her artwork. View Brushes with Grace (Ballinran Productions), a mini documentary which profiles Grace, her family, and their inspiring journey.
Faces of ACEing Autism, Palm Beach, by J. Michael Whitaker: Inspired by his teenage son, Maxwell, Whitaker has assembled an exhibit which express his love of photography and his passion for advocating on behalf of persons with ASD.
Ellen Irving, after a 30 plus year journey was diagnosed with Asperger’s in 2008. Facebook
Meet Aleesha Worminton: “My inspiration comes from my own imagination. This piece is a self portrait done in acrylic. My favourite medium is pencil or ink as I like drawing the best.”
Erik Originals. A website showcasing a range of woodwork by Erik Warren. Existing works can be purchased through the site, and the artist can be commissioned to create custom works.
Leah DeMonia, featured in the ASD Arts gallery, is covered by Parents magazine: A Talented Girl with Autism Draws the Friends She’d like to Have. Ellen Seidman, April 3, 2014. Leah was also recently named a Mighty League Autism Ambassador.
Flavia Monica Matei: My world is full of allegories, metaphors and multifaceted associations. This world is sometimes absurd and paradoxical, sometimes surreal and strange, but this world is my true feelings. In this world, different emotions coexist side by side : irony, fear, joy, pain, but there is always a presence of hope. I don’t like to impose my point of view on the spectator. I only slightly open a door to wonderland, where everyone can find something of his/her ow.
Steven Wiltshire is a London-based artist, named Member of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his services to the art world. Best known for his panoramic cityscapes (often drawn entirely from memory), Wiltshire’s work has garnered critical attention since his childhood. In 2006, he opened a permanent gallery of his work at the Royal Opera Arcade.
YouTube Clip: Stephen Wiltshire has been called the “Human Camera.” In this short excerpt from the film Expedition ins Gehim (Beautiful Minds: A Voyage into the Brain), Wiltshire takes a helicopter journey over Rome and then draws a panoramic view of what he saw, entirely from memory.
Meet Remrov: “From my early childhood into my late twenties, I didn’t know how to communicate or how to interact with others. I didn’t understand other people’s behaviour and language. I was extremely isolated, and I couldn’t express myself. I didn’t even notice when somebody was talking to me. Now I am thirty eight years old. I make a living with my photorealistic drawings and I sell them all over the world.”
Her whimsical depictions of peaceful fantasy worlds have been influenced by her attention and captivation of intricate detail, pattern and repetition. Her art often has underlying themes of acceptance and equality and her art is meant to encourage others to celebrate their strengths and cherish their differences.
My name is E. David Hopkins, I have Autism Spectrum Disorder, and I have written a novel “The Sheltered Life of Betsy Parker” about a girl named Betsy Alicia Parker who lives her whole life completely naked, from infancy to adulthood, because she has an allergic skin condition that makes her unable to wear clothing or have anything on her body. This novel follows her growing up, and striving to be successful despite having this condition. My autism and my involvement in the nudist lifestyle (in which I have been partaking to help me socialize and to be in the company of people who accept me unconditionally and non-judgementally) were what inspired me to write this novel.
“Adrian and Super-A” book and workbook series for children with autism, Aspergers and ADHD. The books can be adjusted to the child’s age and abilities (4-10 years), and the workbooks practice executive functioning and understanding the perspective of others (green from 3 years, blue from 5 years). Everyday situations are dealt with by a superhero that a child with autism/ADHD can identify with, a train (collecting pictograms), a thumb (with clever rhymes) and of course, Little Miss Trigger. Look inside the books at: http://bemyrails.com
Samson the Autistic Sand Castle [PDF], and Samson’s Sensory Overload [PDF] — short stories by B.T. (Brad) Hall from Autism Canada’s ASD Advisory Committee.
Benn Kramer: Climbing through Autism, by Mary Scott (Hancock House Publishers 2013). A biography of Hornby Island’s Eagle Man, who overcame the restrictions of autism to live a life of personal accomplishment.
Claire Morrall: The author explores Asperger’s syndrome in her latest novel. Danuta Kean, The Independent: The main protagonist in her new novel, The Language of Others, is another enigma. On first impressions, Jessica is a troublesome child, painfully withdrawn and, as Morrall admits, “difficult to deal with”. As the story unfolds, her inability to read people, especially Andrew, the tantrum-throwing violinist whom she goes on to marry, is frustrating. Later, her passivity when faced with Andrew’s abuse and her 24-year-old son Joel’s adolescent reticence is infuriating. But as Morrall reveals Jessica’s past and Jessica narrates her present, it becomes apparent that her inability to deal with the mess of human emotion is the result of undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome… [Hodder & Stoughton publishers website]
Zarketh: The Hungering Cold by Matthew David Boyle. Matthew is 19 years old and the youngest brother of four. He was diagnosed with Autism (PDD/NOS) when he was three years old and did not speak until he was four. He struggled through the social aspects of the school system, leaving in grade 10, although he excelled in several courses, especially mathematics. Matthew had no interest in his English courses until he met a home instruction teacher, in Grade 9, who took the time to nurture his self-esteem as well as his incredible imagination. He is an avid computer gamer, to which he attributes some of his ideas and he is currently working on a book series.
Sarah Stup, a writer with autism, discovered the power of the written word when she was eight. Until that time, because she could not speak, few appreciated just how bright she was or the extent to which she absorbed her lessons and environment. Ultimately, Sarah would graduate high school with honours, but it was from her first awkwardly written sentences that her dream of being a writer began.
Tracey Cohen, diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at age 39 wrote and published her first book, Six Word Lessons on Female Asperger Syndrome in March 2017. The purpose for writing this book is to educate and inspire individuals, families, professionals, anyone willing to learn and draw awareness to Asperger syndrome/Autism especially the differences between males and females. So many women are missed in diagnosis and never receive any help/support.
Singers / Actors / Performers
Scott James Stuns Audience on X-Factor 2009 Final Auditions [YouTube]. Posted by theytrebel on September 20, 2009.
Sara Sobey and Kim Souch are the mother daughter duo that makes up the band KiSara. Their heartfelt music and materials focus on celebrating abilities and talents as well as a good dose of Autism Awareness! They perform their original music to audiences all over the country and in 2016, they will be releasing their new song/project “Rainbows”, as well as a video and a re-release of their book Possibilities. Together they are a One of a Kind Kaleidoscope Ride.
Laura Nadine is one of those adults on the spectrum who is an inspiration to us all. Her natural talent for music is a gift to the world. She is a musician, composer, author, teacher, writer, mother and so much more. For more information on Laura, please visit her website at www.lauranadine.net.
Ben Simcoe: Ben is a 24 year old impressionist and a person with a developmental disability (Fragile X Syndrome or we prefer, ‘a chronic case of acute individuality’.) Ben has been performing his entire life for his family, however, announced a year ago that he would like to become an entertainer. He has performed his show before numerous groups in the Vancouver lower mainland area. Ben does not have a fee for his show however, will accept honorariums when they are given. Ben and his family’s goal is to honour his gifts while shaking up the perceptions many have of people with developmental disabilities. They would also like to offer hope to young families who have a child with a developmental disability. Ben continues to learn new voice impressions and has about eighty different characters. He closes his 15-20 minute show singing, ‘What a Wonderful World’ in Louis Armstrong’s voice. If you are interested in having Ben at your event, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org , or Debby Simcoe at email@example.com.
Rudely Interrupted, whose 5 out of 6 musicians share a range of intellectual and physical disabilities, has been making waves in the Australian pop-rock scene. The band was the first ever indie act invited to play at the UN headquarters to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in 2008. [View photo set from UN HQ performance]
Michael DeRushie is a puppeteer and founder of Milkshake Meadows Puppetry. He offers performances in libraries, churches and shopping malls. He teaches how to build puppets (hand puppets, marionettes, finger puppets, cable puppets, etc.)
YouTube Clip: Alex, ten years old, has been diagnosed with mild-moderate autism since the age of four. This year, Alex overcame many of his fears to start his dream of becoming a comedian, and did a stand up comedy routine for his school talent show (in front of about 500 students!).
YouTube Clip: John “Hai” Knapp, a musician/singer/songwriter and healthcare activist in the United States, performs “Viva la Companie.” Knapp expresses a deep concern with the lack of affordable healthcare in the US, and his music as well as advocacy work call attention to a critical need for reform.
YouTube Clip: Little Autistic Drummer Boy [sic.]. “An 11yr old autistic boy (my son, Malikai) goes from ‘drifting along…’ to ‘Full Steam Ahead!’ in one 1/2 hr session after 2 & 1/2 yrs of lessons. This has been edited to 10 min. to give you the “feel of it” but I had to take out a lot of really cool stuff. Watch the 3 part series for the full 1/2 hour.”
Erik Hedley is an Ottawa teen, one half of the writing team and artist in the autism article series, “I Have Autism and I Need Your Help” for Autism Ontario’s “Autism Matters” magazine. In addition, Erik has begun to create YouTube videos on his channel called ‘Autism Shoe Views‘. His videos offer vignettes from the perspective of autism. Erik’s guiding light? “It’s not what happens to you, but what you do about it that matters most.”
David Beresford is a Canadian illustrator and musician who works in multiple media: “Art is something I have always loved doing since I was 5 years old and I have been working and progressing my creativity ever since then. While I was growing up, I didn’t have much social interaction with people, so I found that the best way to get a response from others was from my drawings and paintings. To me, art is life and it never loses its true value when a piece is created.” [excerpt from website]
My imagiville and our Imagifriends, D.J. Svoboda. Imagiville and its inhabitants are the culmination of Daniel Svoboda’s creative efforts in response to some difficult years at school. An aspiring writer and illustrator, Svoboda’s art offers a path from the encounter with difference to its acceptance. The site showcases Svoboda’s work and the services that he provides as an artist.
Films and Other Media
This film is a love story about a man named Adam (Hugh Dancy) who has Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. Adam finds it difficult to be with others and often escapes into his love of space exploration. When Beth (Rose Byrne) moves into the apartment above him, he uses his unique, often funny, and sometimes painful social skills to begin to build the personal relationship that he so desperately desires. Adam is a romantic character piece about the obstacles to intimacy and the compromises we all make for love.
U.K. BBC TV movie. 2007. A true story about a couple’s struggles to meet the challenges of their son’s autism and his increased ability to communicate through the family dog.
ARTS: A Film About Possibilities, Disabilities & The Arts.
U.S.A 2009. Painting, drawing, writing, music, drama and other forms of arts are expressed beautifully by and through individuals with disabilities in Keri Bower’s new film, ARTS. – Sharing the power of the arts used to improve social, emotional, cognitive, expressive, and life skills in individuals with challenges is at the heart of this glimpse into pure talent demonstrated by people with disabilities.
Autism the Musical
U.S.A. 2008. Autism the Musical is a documentary that follows the lives of five children with autism that write and produce their own musical. Available on HBO On Demand.
The Boy Inside: Canada. 2006. Filmmaker Marianne Kaplan turns the camera on her own family, creating a rare and intimate first-hand portrait of living with Asperger Syndrome (AS). The film follows Kaplan’s son Adam as he makes his way through Grade 7. His condition creates many challenges for him among his schoolmates and he is painfully aware of his separateness.
The Horse Boy: U.S.A. 2009. An intensely personal yet epic spiritual journey, The Horse Boy follows one Texas couple and their autistic son as they trek on horseback through Outer Mongolia in an attempt to find healing for him.
Loving Lampposts: Living Autistic.
What would you call a four year old who caresses all the lampposts in the park? Quirky? Unusual? Or sick? Such labels are at the center of the debate about autism: is it a disease or a different way of being-or both? In Loving Lampposts, we witness this debate and meet the parents, doctors, therapists, and autistic people who are redefining autism at a moment when it’s better known than ever before. Motivated by his son’s diagnosis, filmmaker Todd Drezner explores the changing world of autism and learns the truth of the saying, “if you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person.”
Mary and Max.
Australia. 2009. “Spanning 20 years and 2 continents, Mary and Maxtells of a pen-pal relationship between two very different people: Mary Dinkle (Collette), a chubby, lonely 8-year-old living in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia; and Max Horovitz (Hoffman), a severely obese, 44-year-old Jewish man with Asperger’s Syndrome living in the chaos of New York City” – excerpt from US Press Kit.
Mozart and the Whale
U.S.A. 2005. Starring Josh Hartnett and Radha Mitchell, Mozart and the Whale is a story of two individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome who develop a romantic relationship after meeting at an autism support group. Shows that individuals on the autism spectrum can and do have happy, loving relationships.
My Name is Khan
India 2010. Two of Bollywood’s biggest superstars, Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, deliver powerful performances in this epic romance that proves true love knows no boundaries. Rizwan (Khan), an Indian man with a unique way of looking at the world, moves to San Francisco and meets a vivacious single mother named Mandira (Kajol). They form a special bond and fall in love against all odds, but fate and tragedy conspire to tear them apart. That’s when Rizwan embarks on a remarkable journey across America to win back the love of his life.
U.S.A. 1988. Golden Globe Winner for Best Film. Actor Dustin Hoffman portrays Raymond Babbitt, an autistic savant, who is being cared for by his younger brother played by actor Tom Cruise.
U.S.A. 2006, Snow Cake stars Sigourney Weaver playing the role of Linda Freeman, a high-functioning woman with ASD. The story follows her friendship with a stranger and others in her small home town.
The Story of Luke
U.S.A. 2012. Sheltered by his grandparents, Luke, a young man with autism, is thrust into a world that doesn’t expect anything from him. But Luke is on a quest for a job and true love. And he isn’t taking no for an answer.
U.S.A. 2010 (TV). Based on the writings by its title subject, HBO Films’ Temple Grandin is an engaging portrait of an autistic young woman who became, through timely mentoring and sheer force of will, one of America’s most remarkable success stories.
U.S.A. 2006. Today’s Man follows Nicky as he struggles to leave the safety of his family’s home and the comfort of his favorite TV shows in order to find a job and an apartment. Made by Nicky’s sister Lizzie Gottlieb, the film is a sister’s search to understand her brother’s mysterious inner life and a larger effort to comprehend Asperger Syndrome and the people who struggle with it.
Travels With My Brother
A short, live action/animated documentary (using computer 2-D cut-out elements) explores the relationship between Vas – a high-functioning autistic man – and his older sister Christine, who will one day be his official guardian, as they travel about their hometown of Toronto, Canada.
Cultural Resources and Links
Applied Theatre Research and Autism Network (ATRAN): An online network uniting professionals and parents interested in applying theatre techniques to help individuals with autism.
Arts Club [Facebook]: Arts Club is an emerging non-profit dedicated to the artistic expression of persons on the Autism spectrum. Like the Facebook page to stay in touch and learn of upcoming workshops.
The Art of Autism: The Art of Autism is a collaborative project that brings awareness to the general public of the creative abilities of people with autism.
Conversations on Creativity with Daniel Tammet. Scott Barry Kaufman, Beautiful Minds: Musings on Intelligence and Creativity in Society, Psychology Today Blogs, January 2, 2010: Daniel Tammet on his personal journey, future goals, and lessons learned.
Drawing Autism, Jill Mullin (Mark Batty Publisher 2009) [Book]: Drawing Autism celebrates the artistry and self-expression found in the drawings, paintings and collages created by individuals diagnosed with autism. The work of over 50 international contributors exhibits unique perspectives on how these individuals see the world and their places in it.
Ideal Way: An Ontario based not-for-profit organization which is dedicated to enriching the lives of intellectually disabled individuals and groups through community education, poverty relief and a range of unique programming including but not limited to: recreational arts and literacy, arts contests, and social networking through pen pals.
Velvi Online Course on Drama for Autism. View Info Sheet [PDF].
Midnight in Chicago by Elyse Bruce:An international culture and tourism initiative that raises awareness of, and funds for, Autism.